WE HAVE JUST READ in the Torah about the miracle of kriat yam- soof, when the waters of the Red Sea receded to enable the Israelites to escape from the onslaught of the legions of Pharaoh. You recall the desperate situation in which the Jews found themselves at the banks of that sea. The mighty hosts of Egypt were behind them and the waters of the raging sea were ahead. In this hour of frantic anxiety and peril they turned to Moses for guidance, but even this peerles leader was at a loss as to what course of action to pursue. As a last resort he turned to God in prayer for there seemed nothing else to do.

Let us now examine the answer that the Almighty gave to Mores in that critical and perilous moment. "Why do you cry unto me! Speak to the Children of Israel and let them go forward!" (Ex. 14: 15).

Why was there a note of impatience and rebuke in those words? Why didn't God address Himself to the Egyptians to leave the Israelites alone?

To my mind there is a profound lesson to be derived from these divine words. There was a good reason why the Almighty addressed Israel and not Egypt. There is a sin known as "sanctimoniousness," which, by detinition, is a false sense of self-righteousness. A nation or an individual is sometimes tempted with a feeling of self-righteousness. This is especially true during a period of war. When there is a struggle between the forces of right and wrong, the side that supposedly champions the right becomes so obsessed with its mission that it overlooks its own shortcomings and wrongs. One can become so absorbed in curing the diseases of others that he does not see the infection that is threatening his own life.

Let us take a concrete example. For decades, an all-out psychological war has been going on between East and West. The Western powers have done everything in their power to bring to the communist world the message of democracy and freedom. Unfortunately they have become self-righteous in their thinking and have overlooked many ills that are slowly creeping into their national life. To mention but a few --crime in the streets, pollution of the air, crass selfishness by leaders of industry and labor who would sacrifice the welfare of the people for personal advantage. Instead of speaking to the Reds, we ought to speak to ourselves about the grave problems that threaten the cherished ideals which made Democracy great.

This text has also a message for the American Jew. In our struggle against the ever-present forces of discrimination and Jew-baiting we try to impress the world with the beauty and lofty standards of Judaism. A fortune is spent on the publications of pamphlets, periodicals and books to show the non-Jews that we are decent and law-abiding citizens. But sometimes many of us feel like saying to these well-intentioned souls, "Address the message of Judaism to Jews. Chances are that you will accomplish far more for your money that way."

From time to time we hear how environment is blamed for our non-observance of the tenets of our faith. While it is true that there are such difficulties, it is equally true that numerous people create their own problems. Can we honestIy bllme environment for the derelictions of our children when we choose un-Jewish campus and unwholesome college campuses for them? Surely in such instances it is wrong to put the blame an circumstances. One should rather address to oneself the biblical quotation, "Why do you cry unto me? Speak to the Children of Israel and let them go forward!"

It is with young Jewish parents that we must plead to provide for their little ones a fine education and a good Jewish home. That will enable our people to go forward in the service of God and man.

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